Wedding fashion changes so rapidly that we sometimes can’t recognize the wedding clothing popular a decade ago, so it’s not surprising that garments worn by the bride and groom 100 or 200 years ago might seem weird. This item is one of such curious outerwear pieces. It is called “manta” and used to be worn by grooms in the 19th – early 20th century in Ukraine. Here you are a few detailed photos and some info about manta, odd but ornate and beautiful outer garment.
Manta is a long hooded cloak or coat. It was worn by grooms in western Ukraine (particularly, in Bukovyna area) in the 19th – first half of the 20th century. During that time, people wore many layers of clothing to keep the body warm and to show off their wealth and status because fabric was both expensive and labor-intensive, so the more garments you wore, the wealthier you were. And, of course, the most opulent and costly were the wedding outfits. So, manta was the uppermost outerwear worn over several other garments.
Was the whole wedding costume heavy and hot at the time? Sure! Thank god we don’t have to wear as many layers of heavy woolen clothes anymore. But it was traditional and people gladly did so.
Manta was made from home-spun woolen cloth. The color was always whitish or grayish, the natural color of wool. This garment was knee-length. And the most unique feature of this outerwear was a large triangular hood. The hood was functional – it protected the head from the rain. We must say here that Bukovyna is a Ukrainian region situated very close to the Carpathian mountains, so the weather here changes quickly and is rather cool and rainy. After the wedding, manta could be worn by the groom – and then, husband – in daily life but for special, festive occasions.
This garment was beautifully embellished, just like any other wedding piece of clothing. It was adorned with embroidery, braiding, applique, cording, and other traditional techniques. Some of these techniques you can see in close-up photos. Notice that the hood is densely decorated and even has a pom-pon at the tip (of course, this pom-pon is very old, so it’s rather timeworn).
Also, look at the bright patch pocket. Really beautiful and colorful detail, with a lot of embroidery and even teeny-tiny pom-pons.
Here is another manta. It is made in the different color palette. But it is as ornate as the first one. The hood and pockets are the most decorated parts as well. This photo is from a book called “Hutsul embroidery” that depicts museum exhibits from the Museum of the Folk Art of the Hutsul and Pokuttia Regions.